THE first large solar farm in the Portsmouth area is up and running.
A total of 18,500 solar panels have been installed on 35 acres of farmland off Day Lane, Lovedean.
Lightsource Renewable Energy developed the project and will own and operate the plant for the next 25 years.
The solar farm will harness sunlight to produce around 4,600 megawatt hours of power per year – enough to supply around 1,350 homes.
Plans were approved by East Hampshire District Council last December.
Peter Humphreys, from Lovedean Residents’ Association, said residents had had little choice over whether the farm was built.
He said: ‘It was the fastest-approved process in Christendom – the whole process took about eight weeks.
‘As a residents’ association, we would want it returned to agricultural land after 25 years. It’s a fait accompli – there’s not a lot anyone could do.
‘A German and Romanian crew put it all up with extreme efficiency. They worked really hard.’
The Lovedean farm, close to the National Grid, could be the first of a wave of new solar farms.
Solar farms already exist at the Cadland Estate, New Forest, and Oving, near Chichester, with plans for a 68,676-module farm north of Chichester.
A bid to build a solar farm at Newlands Farm, near Fareham, was pulled at the last minute before a meeting in February.
Greg Barker, the minister for energy and climate change, unveiled the National Solar Centre at St Austell, Cornwall, yesterday.
The government wants 22GW solar capacity by 2020, equivalent to a third of country’s peak demand.
Conergy, Europe’s biggest supplier to large-scale solar projects, was the general contractor at Lovedean.
Robert Goss. managing director of Conergy UK, said: ‘Solar is an affordable and reliable means to reduce supply pressures on the National Grid, and can be deployed on a large scale where there is the right site in terms of land use and grid connections. He added: ‘We may not be the sunniest country around, but there is enough solar irradiation even on a cloudy day to produce good amounts of electricity.’